5 Interesting Facts About The Indian Monsoon You Must Tell Your Child
Does your child love the rains? Or does she feel upset every time she's stuck indoors because of them? This season, teach her interesting facts about the monsoon and why they are so important.
By Leena Ghosh
“What the four seasons of the year mean to the European, the one season of the monsoon means to the Indian. It is preceded by desolation; it brings with it hopes of spring; it has the fullness of summer and the fulfillment of autumn all in one.” ― Khushwant Singh, I Shall Not Hear the Nightingale
In his quote, Khushwant Singh, the celebrated writer, beautifully captures the essence of monsoon season and what it means to the people of India. The swirling, dark clouds accompanied by thunder and lightning bring hope to thousands of farmers awaiting the seasonal showers.
Monsoon in India often means flooded roads and overflowing drains, but it also means a bumper harvest and a better economic climate for the country. Of course, the timing of the rains and the amount of rainfall received play a significant role in determining the latter.
While a good monsoon may please the country’s farmers and economists alike, it brings children's lives to a halt. The nursery rhyme, 'Rain, rain, go away, Come again another day, Little Arthur wants to play', aptly sums up the wish of most children who are compelled to stay indoors due to rain.
So, the next time your child feels annoyed because he can't go out to play due to the rain, tell him why monsoon is important and how it affects the lives of every individual. Following are some important facts about monsoon that your child should know:
1. The discovery of the Indian monsoon as a phenomenon: While many credit the Greek mariner Hippalus with discovering the monsoon winds on his voyage to India around the 1st Century BC, researchers now believe that the Indians knew about these seasonal winds much before Hippalus learnt about them. According to a study titled, ‘Ancient maritime trade of the eastern Indian littoral’, by Sila Tripati, published in the journal Current Science (2011), ‘the mariners of the east coast of India were aware of the monsoon wind and currents and used them for maritime trade’. The author further says that ‘the maritime trade from India to Southeast Asia was a seasonal phenomenon’.
2. The origin of the word ‘monsoon’: Monsoon comes from the Arabic word ‘mausim’, meaning seasonal winds. The term was coined by the famous writer and scholar Al-Masudi, who described in detail the periodic winds of the Herkend (Bay of Bengal). He also mentioned that these winds were used as a source of energy.
3. Important monsoon months: Monsoons in India is divided into two seasons — summer monsoon and winter monsoon. Between the months of June and September, the moisture laden winds travel from the south of the Indian subcontinent to the west (also called the southwest monsoon), covering the whole of central and North India by July. During the winter months, between October and December, the southern coast, especially the states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, receives rainfall from the northeast trade winds. This phenomenon is termed as northeast monsoon. However, the majority of the Indian subcontinent remains dry during these months.
4. The first place to receive the seasonal showers: The coastal state of Kerala is the first to receive the seasonal rains. The southwest monsoon first hits the Western Ghats in the state and then moves northward along the Western Ghats.
5. The importance of the Indian monsoon: India, being an agrarian economy, depends heavily on rainwater for irrigating crops and raising livestock. A delayed monsoon or a below-normal one can lead to drought or failed crops, resulting in increased prices. A good monsoon season leads to bumper crops and has a positive impact on the economic climate of the country. India also receives most of its rain during the southwest monsoon, which replenishes the reservoirs and the groundwater reserves.
Other interesting facts about the monsoon
- The first weather forecast in India was made on 4 June 1886. According to the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology website, since 1871, India has experienced 19 major flood years and 26 drought years.
- Lightning strikes are very common during the monsoon in India. A report in TOI published on 2 May 2018, quotes data fro the Andhra Pradesh State Disaster Management Authority (APSDMA), which says that there were 41,025 lightning strikes recorded across 11 districts in Andhra Pradesh, in May this year.
- Planting of crops like rice, cotton, sugarcane and soya bean depends heavily on the rains received.
- India is not the only country that experiences monsoon. In the US, New Mexico, Southwest Texas and Arizona, the season begins around mid June and lasts till the end of September. In Europe, the monsoons are called ‘return of the westerlies’.
Share these interesting facts about the monsoon to help your child understand the seasons and the economics of this country better.
About the author:
Written by Leena Ghosh on 11 July 2018.
Leena Ghosh is a journalist, writer, editor and the mother of a spirited young girl. In between juggling the roles of being a full-time cheerleader for her daughter, a thorough professional and a part-time chef, she dreams of finishing the first page of her unwritten book.
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